She woke up covered with splinters, It was her first clue that he'd abducted her in the boat again. She knew this because although it was beautifully carved, it had splinters everywhere. Now so did she.

The man was an absolute genius on so many levels she'd discovered. An architect, magician, ventriloquist, and a baker. Unfortunately when his interest waned in a project it was dropped like an aging ballerina by a Patron. What this resulted in was a giant swan boat. Beautifully carved, elegantly painted, and as rough as teaching Maths to a French Aristo.

Waking up in it was never fun and she hoped she hadn't misplaced her tweezers upon her return.

If she returned.

The last thing she remembered was Erik declaring his undying love for her, as she tried to thunk her frustration away on her dresser. It worked about as well as one would expect and she now had a lump on her head that she was sure Erik would declare as the beginning of a Unicorn Horn or something equally ridiculous.

Having heard her stirring in the Boat of a Thousand Splinters he rushed to her side, gloved hand extended in entreaty.

"Finally my Princess of Pitch you have awakened! Your Erik has been waiting for you to bless him with your presence. He has written many songs, baked many tarts and practiced shadow puppetry to keep busy. Would you like to see?" All this was chattered at her in rapid fire tones of adoration while leading her towards a small settee near his music space. Setting her down he ended his speech in a dramatic finale of him making a rather good deer with his hands.

Seeing her rather stunned by what he assumed was his obvious talent, he sat at the nearby piano bench and began to improvise tunes. Proceeding to play louder and more passionately he began to declare his many feelings to her. And there were many. So many. Settling herself into what could be a very long piece she tried to get comfortable while discreetly picking out wood pieces from unmentionable places.

"Oh Christine" He moaned "Erik's love for you is like the stars, bright and unending! It is like music, constantly with Erik and driving him on! It's like...like..."

He faltered for a brief moment then brightened considerably.

"Like a Garrote around a man's neck!" he said cheerfully.

"A WHAT?"

"Well, It leaves me breathless. Also a bit tight and uncomfortable." He shifted awkwardly on the piano bench in a way Christine did not want to think about too closely. She really hoped he just had splinters too.

Tiredly rubbing the bump on her forehead she was unsure if this was a continuation of the first headache or a brand new one. Sensing a quick break in the music she decided to speak up. Quickly, and completely straightforward. No dancing around it this time. Erik was a genius. He would catch on. Probably.

"I'm not interested in men. At all. In any way." she interjected between tunes hoping this would get the point across.

"Yes Christine. Your Erik knows of your unending devotion to music and now to him. To us. Together we are music." Apparently this was going to be another head thunker of a talk.

"I am more interested in doing it with a girl than a guy." Bluntness. No confusion. He paused his caressing of the keys to carefully consider this new information as she waited with bated breath.

"It is different. But upon further consideration your Erik thinks it a wonderful thing! Yes my Dove of Dulcet Tones, nevermore need you sing with men. You shall only do "it" with other women. Yes. More Duets with other ladies of the stage!" Oh Lord. Nope. This was not working. Also what in the world was happening with men giving her atrocious nicknames?

Christine wondered if perhaps she might need a newer desk. A thicker desk. Built for excessive thunking of foreheads.

Bluntness was not working in the slightest. Perhaps she needed to take a more artistic approach?

"I'm a daughter of Sappho".

He tilted his head confused, like a hawk who had caught a rubber mouse instead of a live one. A long pause ensued where she thought maybe this time a small inkling of her meaning was coming across.

"I thought your mother's name was Ethel?" Nope.

"I'm Gay"

"Yes Christine. The Gayest! The merriest! You bring as much joy to my heart as a glorious symphony or a perhaps well designed torture chamber!" At this declaration he dashed to his Pipe Organ in a fit of inspiration and began to pound away at the keys in discordant merriment. The wind from the multiple pipes creating such a gust that the many drapes began to billow about the underground cave and the huge candles began to sputter warningly. Looking about her in concern she tried to take his mind off his obvious passion by diverting his attention.

"What's this?"

"It is Erik's masterpiece! His ultimate creation! It is...Don Juan Triumphant!" He declared striking a dramatic pose that was oddly similar to Raoul's. Perhaps they had read the same picture book at some point.

Rifling though the pages she paused.

"Erik there's an entire song here about wanting to take all your feelings and bake them into a cake."

"ERIK HAS FEELINGS OKAY!?" He made a note to perhaps leave that song out. It was a work in progress after all. Paris was maybe quite not ready for his genius in baked good themed Operatic songs.

Seeing him moodily return to his pipe organ and begin toying with the keys she made an effort to change the subject once again. Pointing to some drapes wooshing around a small closed off a small alcove in the corner prompted her to inquire.

"What's that"

"Nothing! Certainly not a giant doll shaped like you that Erik dresses up and dances with sometimes! Why would you say such a thing. Really Christine."

Abruptly deciding that she did not want to pursue this line of questioning any further she let herself fall silent. This was not going well. In fact this entire exchange was going about as successfully as when Joseph Buquet thought he could seduce a few chorus girls with his "sweet dance moves." That is to say there was already awkward pelvic shifting and an eager desire to get out of the room as soon as possible. Seeing her look at her hands in what he took to be modesty he knelt down at her feet in adoration.

"Your Erik cannot bear to see you even near another man. Much less to love another!" he snarled clutching his heart in one hand as if to tear it from his chest. A few more declarations may or may not have been made but it was mostly muffled by his incoherent sobbing into her skirt hem. She should just sew sponges into them and save herself some money. Getting himself under control he leapt away from the evidence of his dry clean only crime and returned to his instrument. Slamming his hands on the keys with increasing fury his angry thoughts the air seemed to begin gusting strangely.

"Mostly being around other men is not a problem" she muttered. She found this to be especially funny considering she spent most of her time outside the opera with Mama Valerius. Also know at night as "Big Mama Valerius". Her shows were utterly fabulous even if she did come wandering in at odd hours smelling of gin and dropping sequins and molting feathers like some large, fabulous bird. Apparently she had always wanted a daughter. Christine was delighted to have her hair braided on occasion and a nice discount in rent in exchange for helping with the choreography of the routines. It worked out well for all parties.

"Oh Christine. Beloved Christine. You've made your Erik so happy. Knowing that you love him in return is the best thing since that one time you pat me on the head like a good boy."

"Erik. My friend, You see the thing about that is there may have been a slight misunderstanding about what you heard..."

"You mean the love you spoke of was not for ME!? I will KILL THEM." His large golden eyes flashed with madness and uncontrollable rage, "Who is this Lothario that steals your precious heart?" His playing increased with ferocity. The loud pounding on the keys distracted her from the breeze that had started to swirl around the underground cavern. Flickering candlelight rose and fell with the tempestuous music as both surrounded her.

"Erik you don't understand, I've been trying to tell you I don't have any man I love. Why is no one listening. Am I insane? Is everyone mad?" Not listening to a word she said over the ever increasing roar of the organ he played a mad crescendo of music making a huge gust of air from the organ swirl around the water trapped island. He stopped after the dramatic music ended to look her dead in the face with all the passion he possessed.

"Yes but can your other Paramour do THIS!?" he cried lifting his hands grandly into the air to reveal a hopping bunny.

"No Erik." She didn't think anyone even had the interest frankly but wasn't about to spoil his moment.

Looking more closely at the bunny she realized it was actually quite good. He made it look as if it was hopping even. How was he doing that trick where it was growing bigger? Swirling around she saw that Tall, Pale and Angsty had apparently played the organ with such enthusiasm that he had caught his numerous drapes on fire with his equally numerous candelabras. Who needed this many candelabras, honestly!

"Erik there's a fire!" she shrieked with all the piercing vocals sh could muster.

"Yes my Sultana of the Stage! A fire in my heart for YOU. No other man can match it" he yelled back.

"What is wrong with everyone!? I mean an actual bloody fire!"

"Oh yes. My home does seems to be in flames, doesn't it," He pondered for a moment. Grabbing his Don Juan (Cake musical number included) he tucked his scores in the Swan Boat and gave a last pout and what looked to her to be the charred remains of a poofy wedding dress. With a sigh he started rowing quickly to a hidden exit that only he knew. Christine settled reluctantly onto what she hoped might be a slightly less splintered part of the boat near the elegantly painted brow

Leaving the crackle of one of his favorite hideaways behind them he watched his beloved squirm awkwardly on his beautifully themed boat. A thought occurred to him.

"Christine. When we get married some day and have children do we have to name one of the children Sappho after you mother?

His answer was only a groan and the steady thunk of his beautiful beloved engaging in some strange female ritual of thunking the brow of the swan boat as he navigated them to a less burn-y place for a date.